Though restaurateurs and commentators stop short of saying that servers are overpaid, many of them complain that servers' tip incomes often exceed those of equally skilled and important non-tipped restaurant workers.
In fact, I doubt that tipping is cost-effective, because it increases the need for managerial vigilance against employee theft and increases the difficulty of tracking, recording, and reporting servers' tip incomes, as I explain next.
However, I come away from the data believing that biggest reason for restaurateurs to replace tipping is that it takes revenue away from them in the form of lower prices and gives it to servers in the form of excessively high tip income.
Similar experiments with no-tipping policies and restaurant industry calls for the elimination of tipping occurred in the 1980s when a series of new laws increased restaurants' responsibilities for paying taxes on tip income.
25) A second rationale is that the performance-contingent nature of tip income should appeal to and reward competent workers more than less competent ones.
Tip income is inherently variable, which may be unappealing to workers seeking to support themselves and a family.
Does the variable and performance-contingent nature of tip income attract more or less desirable applicants and workers?
The idea that tipping selectively attracts less desirable workers assumes that only relatively young, less experienced, and part-time workers are willing to put up with the uncertainty of tip income.
Tipping abolitionists might be surprised to learn that all servers surveyed chortled at the suggested replacement of their tip incomes with a "living wage" of $15 an hour.
When asked, most servers had a fairly firm idea of their tip income.
The researchers found that servers' tip income rose only 2 percent for a 1-point increase in reported service quality on the 5-point scale--hardly a reliable finding.
All servers strongly agreed that overall service quality would drop precipitously if their tip income were replaced with a fixed hourly wage, especially for "loud," "obnoxious," and "arrogant" customers, as well as customers with unruly and messy children.